Tuesday, August 09, 2011

 

Six tips to increase comments on your blog

Ever feel like you're writing and writing, and nobody's listening?

If you're not getting a lot of comments, it may feel like you're talking to an empty room. But oftentimes, you do have the traffic and readership, but aren't doing a few simple things to encourage faster, easier and more frequent commenting by you readers.

And with more comments, you'll show new readers that there's an active community on your blog, increasing overall traffic, new readers and repeat visits as a result.

Here are a few basic tips to get more of your readers to participate.

1. Allow comments and make them prominent right after the post
I still meet bloggers who don't have comments enabled, or don't realize that their comments are disabled. This is basic, but do me a favor and check.

2. Use a cross-platform service like Disqus
Lowering the barrier to entry is key. Some blogs require login to comment. That's a high bar and will discourage participation. At minimum, let people make comments with a simple name and linking URL. Better yet, let them use a common blog commenting and profiling tool such as Disqus. Thousands of blogs use this service in particular now, and help those commenting to link their thoughts across blogs. Fast, easy, branded. These services will also often alert commenters when someone else has responded, which further encourages them to come back and continue the conversation.

3. Moderate comments (if you must) after the fact
Occasionally you might find commenters go over the line. If they're being libelous or profane, by all means take the comments down and block them. But when blogs require moderation before something is posted, you lose the instant gratification effect of letting the commenter see their words immediately on the page. Many readers will retweet or share your story only after their own name and comments are added (so others see that as well). If you require moderation, you lose a lot of that traffic and pass-along.

4. Ask questions to invite conversations
How often do your blog posts end with a question? How often do you proactively invite opinions or disagreement from your readers? You don't need to do this every time, but asking questions will help convert more lurkers into responders.

5. Send new posts to specific people and ask for their reaction
Oftentimes when I write something new, I'll send a link to the post to people I know specifically will enjoy it and/or have an opinion or rebuttal. Sometimes I'll do this to people I know have a different opinion, and encourage them to share their perspective in the comments. Great way to spark the discussion.

6. Be your most active commenter
You don't need to respond to every post with "I agree" or "thank you", but if someone shares an opinion and you have a response, share it. Let your commenters know you're listening and appreciate their time and perspective.

What other advice or best practices would you share with other bloggers? What's working for you?

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